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25 June 2020Americas

Gilead expands oncology business with Pionyr deal

Gilead Sciences has begun a potential takeover of  Pionyr Immunotherapeutics after it agreed to pay $275 million for a 49.9% equity stake in the cancer research company.

The deal continues the broadening of Gilead’s business, which is mostly based on the sale of antiviral drugs for diseases like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

“Pionyr is pursuing promising, novel biology in the field of immuno-oncology,” said Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day.

“The agreement represents important progress as we continue to build out Gilead's presence in immuno-oncology with innovative and complementary approaches,” O’Day added.

The deal includes an exclusive option for Gilead to buy the rest of the company, which could hinge on results of clinical trials for two investigational biologics owned by Pionyr.

Pionyr plans to file investigational new drug applications with the US Food and Drug Administration for both PY314 and PY159 in the third quarter of this year.

“PY314 and PY159 are first-in-class antibodies designed to remove or reprogram, respectively, the immune suppressive cells in the tumor microenvironment and thereby enhance anti-tumor immunity,” said Pionyr president and CEO Steven James.

Gilead said both experimental biologic drugs had demonstrated preclinical efficacy, and had potential to treat solid tumors in combination with other established medicines.

“Pending Phase 1b results from either candidate—or sooner if Gilead chooses—Gilead can exercise its exclusive option to acquire the remainder of Pionyr,” a Gilead release said.

The deal could lead to Pionyr shareholders receiving up to $1.47 billion in milestone payments if Gilead exercises its buyout option.

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